Book Reviews, June 1950, June 1950

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“GRAND PRIX RACING FACTS AND FIGURES,” by George Monkhouse. (238 pp., 42s. Foulis and Co., 7. Milford Lane, W.C.2.)

In this beautifully produced typically-Foulis book, George Monkhouse surveys Grand Prix racing from 1894 to the present day. Inevitably he covers much the same ground as other writers such as Rose, Pomeroy and Karslake, but this he is well aware of ; indeed, he makes generous reference to the books of these and other authors. Monkhouse’s first chapter, ” Racing Through the Years,” might be said to represent a useful compact summary of what one finds in Pomeroy’s opening chapter in his great work ” The Grand Prix Car.” The following chapter, on Grand Prix driving, is Monkhouse’s well-informed version of a subject dealt with also by Walkerley in his ” Grands Prix 1934-1939.” The next chapter covers racing organisation, of which we have already read a good deal in Monkhouse’s classic “Motor Racing with Mercedes-Benz.” The remaining chapters deal in more detail than the first with races, personalities and cars of the 1932-1945 era. These chapters contain some exceedingly interesting technical information on Seaman’s famous 1 1/2-litre Delage, which has never before been divulged, and 20 or more interesting pen-pictures of famous drivers–the sort of thing you find in race programmes and have, no doubt, always wanted to have handy in your book-case. There is also a chapter on American racing, but naturally the later years of European activity have been covered already in the author’s book about Mercedes-Benz.

What, then, remains ? Why, the two most important parts of the book ! First, the photographs–too many to count, beautifully replicated on art paper and ranging from the road-racing cars of 1902 to the present day. The early ones are by M. Prieur, the American photographs by Charles Lytle and the rest by Monkhouse himself—who is so modest as to pay tribute in his text to Louis Klemantaski and Guy Griffiths without coupling his name with theirs ! These pictures form a great collection, from which hours of pleasurable study will be derived.

The remaining section, primary purpose of this book, is a table of racing results from 1894 to 1949. It is a remarkabk, an unique achievement –to compile which must have involved George in a prodigious labour of love. Here are the placings in every motor-race of note the author has been able to discover—an invaluable record. Some of the more important hill-climbs are thrown in for good measure, besides such non-racing-car events as the Georges Boillot Cup, Phoenix Park, Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and T.T., etc. Monkhouse tells how he and Seaman were prompted to compile something of the sort many years ago from the wonderfully complete files of Roland King-Farlow, who eventually produced many of the records for the period 1894-1936 himself. The author, modest, again, asks readers to send him corrections or any additional results. —this critic is content with things as they are and feels these tables alone to be worth ” the price of admission”; that victory in the 1938 T.T. is attributed to Aston-Martin instead of to Delage is obviously a typographical error and not wishful thinking ! It such a pity the publishers haven’t provided a few lines beneath each relevant 1949 entry so that readers could neatly insert the results of 1950 and of those subsequent years that may elapse before the book is reprinted. Nor is an index included, resulting in much loss of time even in turning up details of a particular driver’s career.

George even goes so far as to provide a list of fatal accidents which happened between 1898 and 1949. It mainly concerns front-rank men, but Dunfee goes in, Leeson does not. Morbidly enough, a far longer list appears in von Devan’s “Auto-Und Motorrad AImanach.”

This latest work of Monkhouse’s is a concise account of all that Grand Prix racing is about, easy of reference, yet it is a complete, enthralling, “possessible” book in itself. Its greatest value lies, however, in the records contained between its covers, both pictorial and tabular.–W. B.

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